I don’t think I can remember a time when a team in the NBA Finals played so poorly in front of its home fans.
Sure, there have been times where the road team has been the dominant team in the series. The 1980 Philadelphia 76ers lost two of their three home games to then rookie Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. The 1990 Portland Trail Blazers and the ’91 Lakers each dropped three straight at home after splitting the first two games on the road. The ’93 Phoenix Suns dropped all three of their home games to the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. The Orlando Magic dropped the opening two games at home to the Houston Rockets in ’95 and in ’09 dropped two of three to the Lakers, and the ’01 76ers, led by Allen Iverson, dropped all three of their home games against the Lakers.
So there have been moments where the home team simply was no match for the visitors, but the Miami Heat‘s horrific play at home made history on Thursday night. The Heat became the first team in NBA history to lose back-to-back home games in the Finals by at least a 15-point margin.
And these games were not even that close.
In Game 3, when Miami seemingly had all the momentum following a gutsy Game 2 in San Antonio, the Heat were ambushed by a red-hot San Antonio Spurs team. The kill was swift, as the Heat had no answers for a resurgent Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs’ flawless offensive execution.
Everybody assumed that the Heat would respond following their embarrassment at home, but in Game 4, it simply was not there for them. The Heat did not even make an attempt to get into the game as LeBron James looked tired, Dwyane Wade had no lift and Miami’s supporting cast was nowhere to be found.
Everyone, including the Spurs fans, were stunned at the Heat’s poor play at home, a building where prior to Game 3 they were 8-0 and dominating teams at will. But on Thursday night, it was clear that the tables had turned, and the Heat’s invincibility at home melted away into the hot and humid Miami night.
Miami now crawls into Game 5 in San Antonio on Sunday in a position they have not been in since 2011 — on the verge of elimination. Judging from Miami’s lethargic play at home, I don’t know if the Heat have anything left in the tank to pull off an upset. Thanks to their horrible play at home, the Heat’s chances at making history appears all but over.